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Tweet a Hack: The Results Are In!

by Polly LaBarre on August 30, 2010


polly-labarre's picture

Tweet a Hack: The Results Are In!

We have a winner! We’re happy to announce Dr. Ellen Weber as the winner of our first-ever Tweet a Hack contest, which challenged you to offer up your bold ideas for “taking the work out of work” in 140 characters or less.

The winning Hack Tweet?

    Host a Celebration of Innovation twice yearly, where people showcase innovative projects & insights similar to trade shows.

One of the questions behind the “Take the Work out of Work” moonshot is:  Does your organization have a smart design for unleashing the best gifts of every individual inside it? Ellen’s hack gets at some of the critical components of that kind of smart design: celebration, transparency, experimentation, and the assumption that great ideas can come from anyone—and anywhere—if you’re smart enough to invite them in.

In fact, the winning hack reminds me of one of the most powerful designs for creative work I’ve ever witnessed—at Pixar Animation Studios (the creative juggernaut behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles). I was lucky enough to spend a bunch of time inside Pixar when I was researching my book (Mavericks at Work) and came away inspired and energized. I think of Pixar as the “extreme home makeover” version of a progressive and productive (and utterly inventive) workplace—you may not be able to replicate it in your company, but you sure can learn from it. And one of the biggest lessons I came away with was that Pixar doesn’t just try to find and hire the biggest stars in the industry—they work hard every day to develop a system for getting those stars to work well together, to, as they put it “do art as a team sport.” Beautiful.

That’s not just a pretty statement—Pixar has instituted all kinds of practices and mechanisms and invested heavily to make that a reality. One of their mantras is “measure and display.” They’re obsessed with sharing and tracking “work in progress” so that everybody in the organization knows what’s going on, can contribute any ideas or feedback in real time, and can learn along the way. One particularly powerful ritual: the post-film companywide “science fair.” Much like Ellen’s hack, the science fairs are part-celebration, part-after action review, part-trade show. They’re a weeklong series of keynotes, Q&As and demos focused on technical advances, problem-solving sessions, active learning from failures as well as success—and a whole bunch of fun and games, like a scavenger hunt for aquatic artifacts after the completion of Finding Nemo. Everyone is invited to attend, and almost everyone does. Not only does this feel like the most engaging form of play, it also goes a long way in communicating that everyone in the organization is a valuable player, an innovator (and in Pixar’s case, a filmmaker), with a lot to learn and a lot to offer.

Great job Ellen!

Now, there were a ton of fantastic entries, so even if you didn’t win this round, please do take the time to develop your tweet hack into a full-blown hack on the site. You’ll be eligible for the grand M-Prize in October—and some fantastic rewards, including a speaking slot at HSM’s World Innovation Forum in June 2011.  The top winner will join leading thinkers in innovation—this year's speakers include Seth Godin, Biz Stone, Michael Porter, and Jeffrey Hollender—to share their winning idea. Check out the M-Prize page for more information.

And watch this space for our next Tweet a Hack contest. Thanks for playing!

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ellen-weber's picture


I would like to thank the entire Management Innovation Exchange team, and the many innovative contributors here,  for the immense honor bestowed on my idea for a Celebration of Innovation.  On many occasions  I enjoyed reading and thinking about so many of your  thoughtful and mind-bending  contributions at this site. Any contributors here could have won this contest, and I’m deeply aware of all that I am learning weekly from each leader in this talented circle.

One gets the idea that we are seeking doable possibilities together for a finer way! One  that benefits all who work in any organization. One that has a ring of innovation,  stirs the mind to better places, and reaches beyond itself to care for a wider community.  It could be a new day in business when that happens, and talk of recession will cease with such offerings! It’s why I am here, and why I hope to be able to lend a few ideas to prosper your creations, as you have done so generously to assist mine.

Thanks Polly for the way you took my 2-bits and wrote it into gold -  comparing it to Pixar’s dynamic demonstration of part learning as in science fairs, and part leading as in trade shows. Yes – that’s it! You put into words better than I – exactly what wonder and active engagement of discovery that I enjoy most in  Celebrations of Innovation I have facilitated!

Thanks Robyn, for your constant encouragement and wisdom to me and to others you work alongside. Thanks for your own creativity which offers exemplars at every stage of your work. You inspire us with reasons to nudge traditions forward until sustainable and life-changing innovation is a core part of workplace culture. What a wonderful time to lead and grow a business!

robyn-mcmaster's picture
Ellen has brilliant ideas that tip beauracracies upside down.  She is an innovator and a creator.  Few have a brain like hers and I am glad to see her recognized in this way.